The best books to discover the truth about women pirates

Laura Sook Duncombe Author Of Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas
By Laura Sook Duncombe

The Books I Picked & Why

She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea

By Joan Druett, Ron Druett

Book cover of She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea

Why this book?

This book is the perfect balance of deep research and swashbuckling adventure! Joan Druett’s own story is fascinating, and she lends her talents to illuminate the lives of pirate women. This is the first book I read by a woman about pirate women, and it felt like exhaling a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. When women tell our own stories, the impact is so incredibly powerful and I have this book to thank for teaching me that.



When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Granuaile: Sea Queen of Ireland

By Anne Chambers, Deirdre O'Neill

Book cover of Granuaile: Sea Queen of Ireland

Why this book?

Grace O’Malley was my first pirate love and will forever hold a special place in my heart. This is the seminal biography of her by the woman who basically singlehandedly brought her whole story to the world. Anne Chambers is one of my women pirate researcher heroines and her depth of knowledge on Grace is unmatched. This book reads like a novel and is packed with amazing tales. I have read this one many times!


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors' Wives

By David Cordingly

Book cover of Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors' Wives

Why this book?

Cordingly is more famous for his other major pirate work—the ubiquitous “Under the Black Flag,” which is required reading for anyone who wants to learn more about pirates. However, I prefer this book about pirate women, as well as other types of women who went to sea. When I started my research for my first book, I knew virtually nothing about the women of the Royal Navy and this book opened my eyes to their fascinating stories. There’s something for everyone in this book.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Sea Queens: Woman Pirates Around the World

By Jane Yolen (, Christine Joy Pratt

Book cover of Sea Queens: Woman Pirates Around the World

Why this book?

This is a picture book, but it’s absolutely lovely. Jane Yolen lends her considerable storytelling talent to this slim volume, which features both gorgeous illustrations of pirate women and bite-sized adaptations of their stories. This is a book I gift to most of the children in my life as a perfect introduction to the world of pirate women.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Pirate Queens

By Leigh Lewis, Sara Woolley

Book cover of Pirate Queens

Why this book?

This new book is a great example of how women pirates continue to captivate and inspire us. Leigh Lewis has created a truly unique hybrid of a poetry collection and historical text which is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s suitable for middle grade readers but enjoyable for all readers. I hope to see more from Leigh!


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists